Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A Question for RP and his Supporters

Taken from a much longer post of mine:

Are there some things Ron Paul thinks neither the federal government nor state governments should be able to regulate? Does he think anything should be entirely left up to the individual to decide? If not, then he's no friend of liberty. And if he does, what's his principled basis for thinking so?

I know what my "principled basis" is: I actually care about individual liberty, specifically the liberty of each person to live his life as he sees fit. That's why I reject Ron Paul, who, on the floor of Congress, has said things like the following:

"The State of Texas has the right to decide for itself how to regulate social matters like sex, using its own local standards."

Aside from RP's complete misrepresentation of the issue at stake in Lawrence (the right at issue was not the right to have gay sex, but the right to have intimate relations with whomever one desires) what constitutional basis is there for the claim that the states do have the right to tell people who they can have sex with? Why isn't that right one falling out of the 9th Amendment -- one retained by the people?

You need to invoke more than the text of the Constitution itself to "fill in" the black box of the 9th Amendment. Indeed, that's precisely its point: to tell us that our rights may extend beyond the confines of anything written in the Bill of Rights itself. Textualism, in itself, is not enough. Political philosophy is required, i.e. a view about the general purpose -- the very point of having a government in the first place.

Libertarians I've known were never shy about exploring that philosophical ground. Now many of them are supporting someone who seems to think it's unnecessary to ever step foot on it. After all, the Constitution can answer each and every one of our policy questions, just as long as you interpret it Ron Paul's way.

And no, the 9th Amendment does not imply that it only becomes legitimate to recognize a right once the Constitution is amended to include that right. That interpretation would make the 9th Amendment superfluous. Think about it.


P. M. Jaworski said...

Why should anyone care?

If I'm running for President of the local food bank, what difference does my opinion on the regulation of telephones and cottage cheese make?

As for the more substantive issue, Ron Paul thinks the states should leave us alone, for the most part. His views are consistent with libertarian views, for the vast, overwhelming, majority of cases.

Terrence C. Watson said...

Presidents appoint Supreme Court justices. Assuming Ron Paul is going to appoint people who think like he does (about X) then what he thinks (about X) is definitely relevant.

Ron Paul thinks the federal government should leave state governments alone. I haven't read anything saying he thinks state governments should be legally obligated to leave individual citizens alone.

In fact, I've pretty much read the opposite (see his reaction to the Lawrence v. Texas decision.)

Besides, if he DOES think states should be legally obligated not to arbitrarily interfere with the lives of their citizens, what level/branch of government does he think ought to have the power to enforce that obligation against the states?

Right now, it's the Supreme Court of the United States. But RP has endeavored to strip the Court of much of its power.

Again, that seems inconsistent with the view you ascribe to him, i.e. that state governments should leave people alone just as the federal government should.

In my opinion, RP is not much of a libertarian. He's a radical anti-federalist -- and there's definitely a difference.